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Thread: Russian River (Coho) Fly

  1. #1
    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    Question Russian River (Coho) Fly

    It's such a simple pattern that I'm embarrassed to ask, but I haven't tied a fly in decades and am only now ready to dust off the old vise to give it another try.

    Is there an online resource that provides a step-by-step guide to tying a coho fly or at least offers some basic advice?

    While it would be much easier to continue stocking up on store bought flies at the price of three for $1, there's a great sense of satisfaction that comes from catching a fish on something crafted with your own hands.

  2. #2

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    http://www.akflyfishers.com/flyofmonth.html

    step by step instructions with photos of many Alaskan flies, from Rich Johnson

    He doesn't have anything as simple as a coho, which is usually just a wing of bucktail in 2 colors. Look at "nine-three" or "sockeye fry" as an example of how to tie a wing. I recommend using a sparse wing so the fly sinks quickly.
    LBenz

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    Member TruBluTex's Avatar
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    THANKS for the web link, LBenz! I'm a noob to fly tying and have been messin' around with tying the "Half-Back" but didn't have step-by-step illustrations on how to do it. Another site I use for such steps & illustrations is http://alaskaflyfish.net. They don't show how to make Russian River flies but do have a step-by-step illustration on how to make a 'Flash Fly' that is supposed to be a killer on salmon, especially Silvers. http://www.alaskaflyfish.net/flashfly.htm

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Talking Alaska flies

    I've been tying flies for ~20 years, and I agree that there is a unique satisfaction that comes from catching a fish on a self-tied fly. I'm a newbie to Alaska, though, and have spent a lot of enjoyable hours this winter restocking my fly selection with Alaska suitable flies.

    I second the motion for the fly of the month section from akflyfishers.com the LBenz mentioned. I've learned a lot of new patterns from that website.

    Take a look at this Wilderness Angler blog site from a guy down in Washington... he ties a lot of nice patterns (listed on the left as you scroll down) and he has step-by-step instructions for most of them. This one is for a Mickey Finn variant that is more or less a Russian River Coho (if you skip the body - steps 1 & 2). Just subsititute an appropriate Russian River hook (3/8" gap or less) and you're all set.
    http://wildernessangler.blogspot.com...n-variant.html
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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    In addition to the satisfaction of catching your fish on flies you've tied, I find the added benefit of being able to select quality hooks is huge. The 3/$1 coho flies sold at Sportsman's Warehouse seem to get dull after just a few bounces along the gravel of the rivers. Mustad makes a "Russian River" hook - 36717 I think - that I have had great success with. The sharpness tends to hold much longer than the cheap ones.

  6. #6

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    Gamakatsu also makes the Coho fly hook, stout hook!

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmo1977 View Post
    Gamakatsu also makes the Coho fly hook, stout hook!

    Agree and enough said. That hook takes a beating and keeps on hooking
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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    a weighted (not the states version of weighted, a fly tiers version of weighted, ie not a 1/4 oz) flesh fly is ten times better than the coho fly, its also faster to tie, and as a bonus it will catch other fish, and as an added bonus reds will actually hit it. The weight is critical, I've found that coho flys the line is not parallel to the bottom which is what you want when mouth snagging the weight on the flesh fly eliminates that, and did I mention reds will hit it? Also I like using a smaller hook, they hook better and if you should happen to foul hook a fish they leave much smaller of a hole
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  9. #9

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    The Gamma hooks are sharper right out of the package but when they do get dull they are harder to sharpen then the Mustad. Gamma's a conical (round) point and chemically sharpened, while the Mustads are three sided points and not quite as hard. Hence easier to sharpen. Remember that the 36717 are 2X Long shanks and the max hook gap in size two. I have found that a smaller and very sparsly tied fly works much better then the larger flies (for sockeye). Unlike most of the other Pacific Salmon, reds concentrate more on zooplanctin(sp) for food then baitfish like herring and sand lance. Fact is I have caught lots of sockeye on size 8 nymphs. Also if you are just starting out tying, think about your materials. Bucktail is hollow and floats, while calf tail is not hollow and will get down into "zone" and the fish much quicker then the bucktail fly will.

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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskan Fly Guy View Post
    Also if you are just starting out tying, think about your materials. Bucktail is hollow and floats, while calf tail is not hollow and will get down into "zone" and the fish much quicker then the bucktail fly will.
    I regularly use synthetics for my coho flies. I think the material is called "polar flash" or something like that. Seems to get down pretty well. I have never tried calf tail for these. Seems that most of the hair on a calf tail would be too short? I'll give it a try sometime.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    At the Sportsman's Show, I stopped by the Gamakatsu booth for some advice on hooks for tying coho flies. The guy told me that since reds don't bite, it would be a wasted effort. He showed me some #2 egg hooks and said I'd be better off simply adding a little yarn and casting those instead.

    Needless to say, I stopped off at Sportsman's Warehouse on the way home and bought a 100-pack of Mustad "Russian River" (36717) hooks -- the same version cited by Alaskan Fly Guy and jmg. For around $12, the price was far more affordable compared to the same type offered by Gamakatsu.

    A couple of observations from the above discussion...

    The consensus seems to be that the coho fly should be tied sparsely to enable it to sink more quickly into the fish zone. However, I've noticed that most of the commercially offered versions are quite bushy. In fact, I'm usually inclined to sort through the bins to select flies with the fullest amount of bucktail. Guess it's that mind set of more is better and wanting to get the most for the money. Won't be doing that anymore.

    My other thought is: are yarn flies legal in "fly fishing only" areas like the Russian River? I'm not so sure that attaching yarn to a #2 (3/8" gap) hook qualifies under the true definition of a fly.

    Finally, I've seen people casting coho flies in waters not designated as "fly fishing only," such as on the lower Kenai River, and they seem to catch just as many reds as the folks using much bigger hooks with yarn. Occasionally, I'll hear other fisherman making snide remarks about the anglers "using a fly when they don't have to." However, the coho fly's effectiveness seems to prove that bigger isn't always better. A lot fewer snags, too.

  13. #13
    Member TYNMON's Avatar
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    Default Differerent Strokes for Different folks..

    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    a weighted (not the states version of weighted, a fly tiers version of weighted, ie not a 1/4 oz) flesh fly is ten times better than the coho fly, its also faster to tie, and as a bonus it will catch other fish, and as an added bonus reds will actually hit it. The weight is critical, I've found that coho flys the line is not parallel to the bottom which is what you want when mouth snagging the weight on the flesh fly eliminates that, and did I mention reds will hit it? Also I like using a smaller hook, they hook better and if you should happen to foul hook a fish they leave much smaller of a hole
    I have fished for sockeye extensivily over the state.... One thing is for certain they do bite... Deffinitely not at high rates as other spp of salmon though.

    I like floating fly line, light sparce fly 2-8 on tough 2x or 4x hook preferably with little sparkly or flash wing that assists the wing in flying and weight 18" to 48" from the fly... The key to my systems are the longer the leader the better depending on the weight desired to fish... Typically 10' is more then enough and snag free weight system is preffered. There are many places that I fish that I prefer to "glide" the fly off bottom and only make contact ever 5-10' or so especially if the fish are thick.. Flourocarbon is a tough copalamer line that has low diameter for stregth rating is a huge advantage.

  14. #14
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Well Said

    No Crap added. Great post TYNMON and sound advise.

    Hey I thought I was the only one using a little Crystal Flash on my Coho's!


    Darn it! Now I have to add something else. Grrrrr!

    :-)

    Tight Lines All.

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    I've caught plenty of reds in still water pools on the Russian but I find that if they have been pressured or spooked they won't take a fly. They also won't bother if they are just cruising up stream. Seem to swat the fly more than anything, kill it kind of response, I have seen it with leech like patterns on kings too. For reds sparse is definitely the word and all range of sizes. Eyes seem to work well and I have had good luck on a pattern somewhere between a teeny nymph and a crazy charly, the eyes seems to piss them off more some days. Works well on other fish too.
    River Runnin

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    I'd also add that although the coho fly looks like a fish or other streamer like pattern, it is used mainly for the drift. I have started using the same style hook with a shorter shank with some success but mostly because some regulations are based on the coho fly hook that has a 3/16" gap if I recall my measurements..... Bearing that in mind, if you can find a stout hook with a gap that small it will serve the same purpose if you get the drift right. I have seen old timers out fish me with a bare hook because the drift was right and they were jut "flossing" the reds as they typically don't bite. I prefer a larger gama octopus with an egg loop and yarn if I can do it legally unless I have clear water to work with. If you can't see 6 inches then neither can the fish and i bet they are just getting "flossed" when you hook up. Bearing that in mind I recommend putting minimal effort into your fly in murky waters while finding the sharpest, widest gap hooks you can find and use legally for reds.
    River Runnin

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